I’ve now encountered two pay-if-you-want music distribution models. One is used by:
The other of course is:
I am trying to decide which I prefer as a person who buys music.
The Saul Williams site allows you to download 192kbps MP3s for no cost, or to pay $5 for your choice of 192kbps, 320kbps or lossless FLAC. I chose the $5 for 320kbps option; $5 is practically nothing at current pound/dollar exchange rates, and most of my other stuff is 320kbps. I don’t know whether it is easy to download it for free then buy it later.
The Radiohead site offers 160kbps MP3s and asks you how much you would like to pay. Alex tells me that they don’t seem to want people to “buy” a copy for £0.00 then repurchase it for some greater amount. They also want quite a lot of information from you.
There are ups and downs to both models. The Saul Williams way is a simple choice between $5 and free, but the free option is not on a par with the pay option. The Radiohead method means that everyone gets the same thing, but gives you a difficult choice to make if you do decide to pay for it: how much should I pay?
Overall I think I prefer the Saul Williams way of doing it: I don’t see the charge as a tax on higher bitrates, and I think $5 is reasonable for an album of MP3s – it’s less cost to me and more revenue to him than a real CD.
I haven’t yet bought the Radiohead album because I do not know what to pay for it. Should I match the other at £2.50? It’s fewer tracks, so should I cut that to £1.80? Why not £10.00, which is what I happily spent on OK Computer? Since they don’t need the money, why not £0.00 and donate a CD’s cost to charity? There are basically 4001 options, which is at least 3999 too many when you’re as indecisive as me.